Saturday, May 9, 2009

Did you know...

that the term/title/phrase/concept of "Big Brother" was coined in the year 1949 by Orwell when the novel '1984' was published?

I wonder where we would we be had he not? Would there even be such a thing as 'reality' tv if he hadn't put the idea of somone watching your every move out there?

Did Orwell actually create the modern practice of putting the intimacies and minutae of life in the media for all to see? And isn't this itself a case of "doublethinking"


Nic said...

Who wishes he hadn't - hands up and join me.

PJ said...

I think "Survivor" was the first reality tv show, not "Big Brother" :-) And that's a great show!!! (tragic, I know).

Hettie Betty said...

God how I long for a world without reality tv.
However, I don't think Orwell is entirely to blame. In philosophy class we were doing a little Foucault and his book 'Discipline and punish: the history of the prison system,' (it's very interesting, opening with a stomach turning description of the torture and execution of Damiens) anyhoo, in the book there is a discussion of the concept of the panopticon in the prison system, which is still used today.
What it is, is architectural design of the prison so that the prison guards can see every room in the prison, but the prisoners cannot see anything outside of their cell. I'll try find a picture...
So the prisoners never know if and when they are being watched. It was designed to control their behaviour.

Another stretch of a connection I made both at time of reading Foucault and 1984, was the similarity of the panopticon to the internet and social networking sites. I am by no means a technological dystopian, but they have a similar function, especially myspace, which last time I used it was so open that anyone could access your profile and learn all about you, and you would never know who had looked at your profile. Plus there is the big brother tactics where market researchers and even ASIO can keep an eye on your activities. Not to mention council IT who are possibly spying on me as I write this!!!

detecktive said...

I remember Foucault and the panopticon design...did that at Uni as well. Funny how some concepts devised some time ago have endured - particularly when it comes to crime and punishment. Also when we consider ourselves an 'enlightened' society.

NOTE: Not making a judgment on Foucaults design - merely that we haven't really come up with anything different (better?) and I find that interesting.

Crime, punishment and rehabilitation is still such a controversial topic...that also hasn't changed. I wonder if this theme (and his thinking on it) influenced the way Orwell wrote 1984?